Opinionated @ CFE

What makes a great argument in favor of the caucus? John Swallow


If you aren’t familiar with how deep the trouble Utah Attorney General John Swallow finds himself in, Daniel Burton has a great summary for you. In a nutshell, it seems that he’s been involved in numerous shady business deals, campaign donations, and pay-to-play schemes for several years and has dragged his former boss, Mark Shurtleff, into it as well. A lot of people are using it to indict the caucus and convention system used to nominate candidates. When faced with the facts, however, we should see that the converse is true.

In the primary election, John Swallow beat challenger Sean Reyes for the GOP nomination almost 70% to 30%. Swallow had a mountain of campaign cash, the endorsement of outgoing Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, and name recognition from being a previous lawmaker and candidate for various offices. Reyes was heavily handicapped in the primary game, one that requires an expensive marketing campaign to win.

Compare this to the results of the GOP convention. Swallow barely managed a 9-point lead, nowhere near enough to prevent a primary. Despite it taking many more months before Swallow’s skeletons came crashing out his closet into the lead story of every media outlet in the state, it seems that a much higher percentage of the delegates knew something we didn’t. It’s almost as if the delegates were better-informed than the general voting public.

The next time you get the urge to trash the current nominating process, maybe you should keep in mind that it was caucus attendees that did a better job at trying to prevent the Swallow debacle than the voting public at large.

Yes, John Swallow, you need to resign


Most of us who play inside ball knew from the start that John Swallow was bad news. After a decade of questionable choices in his actions (all seemingly carefully crafted to be just on the inside of legal), he’s now finding himself caught up in a very serious accusation of being involved in a bribery scheme. While Swallow denies attempting to bribe US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, what he does admit to is enough that he needs to step aside for the good of the state and the office. A few highlights:

  • He transferred ownership of a consulting business to his wife in order to avoid including it on campaign disclosure forms. This business was allegedly setup to provide services to Jeremy Johnson.
  • There is both a recorded conversation and email record showing that Swallow knew he was walking right up to the line of barely being legal.
  • Most importantly, he has admitted to providing legal advice and referrals to Johnson despite knowing that he was the subject of an ongoing investigation. This breach of legal ethics, providing advice to a potential future defendant while serving in a prosecutorial role, is egregious enough to warrant potential disbarment.

All of these actions only further the accusations and rumblings that the AG’s office has been effectively operating a paid protection racket, allowing donors to write a check to make problems go away. Even if there is nothing to them, bringing this dark of a cloud with you should warrant that you leave immediately. Multiple newspapers agree. So do high-profile politicos.

And so do I.

Mr. Swallow, you need to put the good of the state and the office of Attorney General above your personal (and often transparent) political ambitions. It’s time for you to resign.

GOP Primary Endorsement: Sean Reyes for Attorney General


The GOP primary for attorney general may, at first glance, appear to have very few contrasts. The candidates largely share the same big goals or continuing the federal lands fight and the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. Once you dig deeper, however, the contrast is crystal clear. Sean Reyes is a vastly superior choice for the GOP nomination for attorney general.

What sets me ill at ease about John Swallow, the other candidate, is how he was essentially hand-picked by current attorney general Mark Shurtleff to be his successor.  Brought into the AG’s office as a right-hand man just three years ago, Swallow has spent quite a bit of time pursuing elective office. In addition to several terms in the Utah House, he ran for Congress twice. This kind of “please elect me to something” approach doesn’t speak to me as coming from someone who just wants to serve, but rather someone who’s got his sights on something else. I’m also not comfortable with the way that Shurtleff has, in the past, thrown his weight around in a bully-like fashion. I’ve heard many an anecdote that the AG’s office is not a very comfortable place to work under his leadership.

Reyes, on the other hand, seems to be very well-regarded by the lawyers I know. While Swallow builds his campaign upon high-profile red meat issues (just what do the economy and endorsing Mitt Romney have to do with being AG?), Reyes covers a much broader spectrum of law-related issues and specifically addresses white-collar crimes that have been neglected by Shurtleff’s office.

I hope you’ll join me in voting for Sean Reyes in the primary election on June 26.

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